Learn speaking in public from a strong foundation

Epsom Speakers Club Meeting 9th April


What another great night at Epsom Speakers Club. I am so pleased to preside over such a great club. You all make the job enjoyable and educational. Amongst all the laughter and entertainment, some great lessons were learnt by all. We learnt about learning from Doris. How to build a strong foundation for yourself by expanding your knowledge from Phoebus and how to sell an expensive item on a cold call from Peter. That and the array of talent that frequented the stage, it was truly a stupendous evening.


Daniel Magill, our speaking contest winner, was Toastmaster for the evening. Daniel was very smooth and confident and made us all laugh from time to time with his timely humour. Daniel explained the whole process of how the evening was going to run in and eloquent and coherent manner. We did start a little late due to late arrivals, but we were soon into full swing, and the atmosphere started to buzz after the team was introduce. Paul was S@A and videographer. Rick Hazelden was on timing duties, and he did explain his role very well. I especially liked hearing a loud booming ‘Time’ when the minute had passed for us to fill in our evaluation sheets. Very professional. Elizabeth was ballot counter. Norman was our Grammarian, pulling us up on our um’s and errs, and giving us the word stupendous to use. And finally Dave Lane ran the warm up, where we had to recount memories of our childhood. Everyone managed to speak about this, although some of the responses seemed a little short. The warm up is a good opportunity to get you used to speaking to a whole room, so use those 20 seconds allotted for you. The more you speak in public, the easier it becomes to speak in public. It really is as simple as that.


Next came the prepared speeches. Doris was up first. She is one of our more experienced Toastmasters and is revisiting her CC manual. That is why we saw her so early on with regards to the agenda. Doris gave us a great speech giving us valuable tips on how to improve, and related the speech to her own personal journey with golf. I know golf to be a particularly frustrating game and managed to get my handicap below 20 before retiring. It has so many variations that can go wrong, so it is good to compare it to life. Next up was Phoebus, who showed us some moves with his body language speech. Phoebus is really growing as a speaker and he showed composure and presence in his speech. Also Phoebus gave us a very clear and strong message about building strong and solid foundations to build from. We as a society spend so much time in our heads, thinking, monitoring emotions and generally trying to get through our lives, we quite often forget about our bodies, which are our foundations. I am experiencing this through my practices of Ki Gong and Yoga that building a strong and solid foundation, it makes you cope with life in general much more confidently. Phoebus is so right when talking about a strong foundation in dancing, made him more confident in other ways. There are many ways to reach your destination, and not all of them are the obvious ones. Then came Peter with his attempt at selling an expensive product during a cold call in about 4 minutes. Impossible, but he gave it a go. A big thank you to Rick for being the gym owner in the role play part of this speech, then ran over time because of the in depth nature of the sales process, but it did not deter from the message ‘People buy people first and then they buy the product.’ Phoebus went on to win the best speaker award. Well done.


Next came the evaluations. Richard Balfour was a guest evaluator. He evaluated Doris and shared with us what he liked about the speech and delivered some very clear recommendations. Costa evaluated Phoebus and gave us some Greek wisdom to think about also. Again Costa did a solid evaluation of the speech giving us commendations and recommendations. And finally Penny evaluated Peter’s speech. It was quite a hard speech to evaluate as it was not really the normal speech that we see at Toastmasters but Penny did a great job. Penny managed to get two recommendations in also. All the evaluations were of a high standard. This was rightly commented on by the guests also, so well done everybody. Richard and Penny both won the best evaluation award.


After the break we had the topics session ran by Chris Terry. I am glad that Chris and Rick managed to work with each other smoothly being Tottenham and Arsenal fans respectively. We can forge peace in North London. Chris ran a great topics session. This was his first time as Topics master and I will reiterate what Amanda said. Say the topic first and then call the name out. This means that you have more people thinking about how they would respond to the topic in the room. Otherwise we all turn off and feel that we have been let off the hook. The speakers during the topics session were Patrick, Trish, Mark, Anjana, Kim, Zana, Elizabeth and Richard. The theme of the topics was advice and we certainly received plenty of that during the session. Anjana did a classic of actually questioning the topic. She was very funny and went on to win the topics award for the evening.


Amanda Zwarts evaluated the topics session. Amanda is one of our most experienced Toastmasters and managed to give us all something to think about when evaluating the participants. Good commendations and recommendations were given in Amanda’s friendly style. The Gillian came on to give us a general evaluation. Gillian managed to sum up the evening well and has really improved with her speaking in public. It was a great general evaluation, summing up a great evening.


Next meeting is April 23rd where David Goodman will be our Toastmaster for the evening. I am sure this will be another fun packed learning experience. I look forward to seeing you all thereon 23rd April. Keep interacting and speaking to the guests. All you effort and hard work in this area has really helped with keeping the membership numbers up. This in turn makes for better meetings. As I said last night, if it wasn’t for your attendance, there would be no club. So please keep up the great effort you all put in to make these evenings both fun and a learning experience. And always make the guests feel welcome. They are the potential backbone for the future of the club.


Keep shining.



El Presidente.

New ways to learn how to speak in public

Epsom Speakers meeting 19th March 2018

First of all, thanks for everyone braving a bitterly cold night to come along to our meeting on Monday evening. I must admit, I poked my nose out the door and nearly turned back when I saw two penguins happily walking along the street. I knew it was bitterly cold from the biting cold on my nose, and how comfortable the penguins looked. Of course I am joking, but it is all of you who make the effort to come to the club each meetings that makes the club such a success. So thank you for making the effort. We are all appreciative of your efforts for all of our learning experiences.

We had a very experienced Toastmaster running the meeting. Amanda Zwarts was the Toastmaster for the evening and kept the energy going for what was promised to be a very informative evening. There were many hiccups at the start as we were not sure what time the general evaluator was going to turn up, and one of the evaluators couldn’t make it, among other problems. Apart from all of these problems, the evening ran smoothly. Amanda’s team did a great job. Mark was the timekeeper and kept us to time. This is a very important aspect of refining your points to a specified time. Paul D took on the videographer role, which he jumped in at the last minute to take on. Julia was ballot counter and was made redundant at the beginning of the meeting, as there were not enough speakers to vote for. It is was quite a choppy sea at the beginning of the journey of the evening, but these problems were overcome very quickly.

Fatai then took on the warm up. We were asked about presents for Mothers day and everybody managed to say something on the subject so it was a good warm up. The purpose of the warm up is to give people the opportunity to speak for 20 seconds and try to make it as easy as possible for the members. Fatai did this well.

Then came the speakers. First up we saw Matthijs with his ice breaker speech. It was great to hear about his midlife crisis, and how he is coping with it. Matthijs spoke a little quickly, but this is understandable with an ice breaker, as I am sure the nerves were tingling. It was great to hear him speak about himself. Well done for completing your ice breaker. Second up we had Charlie with an advanced speech on Toastmasters. Charlie is one of our better speakers and went through all the ways Toastmasters can help you with your quest to become a better speaker. Even our more experienced Speakers can draw a blank, and Charlie did lose his train of thought during this speech. We can all learn on how Charlie calmly waited until the thread of the speech came back to him, and then carried on as if nothing happened. It was a very good example of staying calm if you lose your place. It happens to the best of us, so if you are new to Toastmasters and public speaking, you need not worry. Your confidence will grow the more you get up on stage and speak.

The evaluators were Phoebus, who was evaluating Matthijs. Phoebus has improved with his public speaking and evaluation skills quietly and confidently over the months he has been a member. Phoebus gave us a very good evaluation of Matthijs. Phobeus showed us he was listening and observing the speech well. I am sure we all learnt much from this evaluation. Doris stepped in and took on Charlie’s evaluation. Doris being an ex President and one of our most experienced Toastmasters gave us a great evaluation. She did give a few recommendations as well as many commendations. Again we learnt much for Doris’s evaluation.

We then took a break, which Paul organised the refreshments so well. Instead of the usual topics session we had an educational on Pathways. Filip graced us with his presence instead of attending his new clubs International speech contest. A big thank you to Filip for doing this. He presented an easily understandable presentation on Pathways. Although some of the processes are a little harsh on some of the older members, I do understand why it has to be that way. Any change can be hard to take, as we are all  conditioned to be creatures of habit, but I feel that this change is going to be a good one. Club meetings will not change. What you have to do for your educational progress is going to change though. I am here to help, as well as any other members of the committee. So if you have any questions please just ask. You have all been sent the log in details to the website so go ahead and get stuck in.

David Goodman gave us a great general evaluation to end the evening. He ran through the events of the evening well and gave us all something to think about with his commendations and recommendations. So thank you David. David was also very positive about the change of education system we are all facing and was prepared to start again on his Toastmasters journey. Great inspiration from David there. Thank you.

Our next meeting is on 9th April when Dan Magill will be our Toastmaster. Please reply to him as soon as you can for your roles. It is his first time and he is hot off the experience of winning our International Speech Competition, so I am sure it is going to be a great night. I will see you then.

Keep shining.

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.

Epsom Speakers Contest Night – 5th March 2018

We had a galaxy of stars at our contest night on Monday! So many eager contestants that it really was hard to fit in everyone who wanted to speak. But we did try. Justin Pybus and I were ‘newbies’ to organising a contest, but backed by the expertise of long-standing club members, and with the enthusiastic assistance of newer members too, with a wonderful team effort, we got there. And not forgetting those staunch Toastmasters from other clubs who were willing to head out on a dark winter’s night and give a hand. This is what I really love about Toastmasters – the community working together to create something fantastic!

So thank you to everyone who helped, before, or during the contest. Our timekeepers, Rohan and Matthijs, ballot counters Elizabeth and Paul Dowdeswell (taking time out from his Sergeant-at-arms job), videographer, Rohan, ushers, Paul Hickson and Mark Peacock. To Elizabeth for her warm-down, evoking memories of snow. To our two contest chairs, Doris Sew Hoy and Paul van der Hagen, keeping control over the proceedings and each lending their own personal touch. To Lloyd for valuable advice beforehand and help with printing, trophies and publicity. Very much to Patrick Ebbs, our chief judge, and to all the other judges, from ESC and Mole Valley clubs (you know who you were, though you weren’t supposed to let on, at the time).

And so to the speakers. There were seven entrants to the international Speech Contest, and each one, in his own way, sought to inspire and enthuse us – to raise our spirits and fire our imaginations!

Peter Parker gave us his three keys to success – the one that inspired me was to picture yourself in that winning situation, feel what it would be like to be there in that moment.

Dave Lane took us on a visit to Goodenough Street and showed us that great achievements can be made in ordinary ways, just by keeping on doing whatever you are able to do. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be good enough!

Dave Goodman gave us a thrilling story of first-aid rescue (with his trade-mark comic punch-line) and urged us to take up first-aid training so we could be prepared for that moment when the worst happens.

Justin told us his personal story of endeavour and risk, in starting his own business, and quoted from Mark Twain ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails!”

Charlie talked about removing the barriers to success. These are often just a question of attitude, created somewhere along your life when someone else persuades you that you can’t succeed.

Costa asked us where are you heading? A clear explanation of how to set and achieve realistic goals.

Dan Magill shared personal moments with us. How much difference can an hour make? 5 minutes, even one minute, could make all the difference, could be the point when a life changes.

In the Evaluation contest, we were honoured to have experienced speaker Bob Nisbett from Camberley and Guildford clubs with his speech ‘The Flying Monk’: a real tour-de-force – he had us on the edge of our seats, and a master class in many ways. Despite this, our intrepid evaluators, Amanda, Penny, Charlie, Phoebus, Dave Goodman, Doris, Peter and Dan Magill managed to find a few points for possible improvement, amongst all those shining virtues, so very well done to them, too. Definitely not an easy task.

At the end of the evening, Patrick Ebbs presented certificates and trophies. In the evaluation contest, first place went to Charlie Warshawski, second, Amanda Zwarts and third to Penny Williams.

In the International Speech Contest, first place was Dan Magill, second, Charlie Warshawski and third, Dave Goodman.

Very well done to our winners, and to all of the contestants!

Two winners from each contest will now go on to the Area contests at Mole Valley Speakers on April 11th. You are all encouraged to attend!


Public speaking. Can you learn to love it?

Epsom Speakers Club Monday 19th February 2018

To love public speaking may seem a pipe-dream for so many people. It is more fearful than death according to certain surveys. That is quite a statement. But can you learn to love it. I believe you can. What do you need to do? Practice, practice, practice!!!!! It really is as simple as that. When you engage in as much public speaking as you can, the fear slowly subsides, and you build confidence each time you attempt to speak in public. It is a process all the more experienced speakers have been through at Epsom Speakers Club and we are witnessing a high standard at the meetings at this point in time. As I stated at the end of the meeting, I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with every member at Epsom Speakers and try to help achieve the individual goals we all have. I see that it is in the spirit of cooperation and appreciation that is the beginnings to fixing this broken society we live in today. The divisive strategies appearing in many forms from politics to religions, gender to sexuality etc are causing so many problems today among human beings. It is fantastic we can put all that aside and learn together. We can entertain the positive thoughts of starting to love your public speaking. You can do it. Only you can choose that fate for yourself. Epsom Speakers Club is just the vehicle.

Penny Williams was the Toastmaster for the evening. The evening was guided by Penny in an effortless way, and she explained all the parts of the agenda well, and let the Topics Master explain his role. Penny showed us how to be a great Toastmaster. Just enough to feel her presence, but not too imposing to detract from the other speakers. The Toastmasters role is probably one of the most fun roles at the club, and you do see the meetings in a different way after taking on the role.

We had Norman on the lights, who was very organised and explained why we use the lighting system at the club. We had Mark as videographer, explaining why it is important to have your speeches filmed. And Doris stepped in as ballot counter. Then came the warm up which was taken on by Phoebus. I used to look at Phoebus when he spoke as a new member, but his growth as a speaker makes me see him in a different light now. Phoebus has improved so much as a speaker and took to this role like a fish to water. He asked what do we do to relax after work? The warm up should enable everyone in the room to say a few words on the subject, and Phoebus certainly did that. Play stations and beer stood out, though I must say more and more people are turning to meditation to relax, which is hard, but a very enlightening pursuit.  When you can slow the monkey mind down, life really does take on a different look altogether.

We had four wonderful speeches and the competition was close for the winning speech. We witnessed two C2 speeches from Chris Terry and Julia. Chris spoke about speed cameras. Chris raised some interesting points. If you look deeper into why the road safety set up is the way it is, then that is a very interesting piece of research in itself. Julia spoke about being a parent. One of her children is in their terrible two’s. Julia looked more like a C7 or C8 speaker and was evaluated in that way. Julia has made enormous improvements in her speaking, and it is great to see. I do remember her as a guest. She found it so difficult to introduce herself. I see the confidence starting to rise in her public speaking and it is a joy to see. Also Julia highlighted a good point that we do judge parents on moments in time rather than seeing the whole picture. Another good tip was don’t go to Pizza Express before 7 pm if you want a quite meal out.

Paul Van Der Hagen was next up, and his speech was about flying. For me, it was like Paul quoting my Father. He used to say ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Paul also has improved greatly as a speaker and gave us a very interesting speech about hitching a lift in a plane. I would never of dreamt of doing such a thing. My Father would have though, so Paul has re awakened the more adventurous spirit that has been lying dormant in me for a while. It was another thought provoking speech. And last but not least, we had Lloyd speaking about loving his spot. It is wonderful to see Lloyd reaching his C10. I know he has really worked hard on his speaking. Lloyd does much background work for Epsom and Mole Valley speakers as well. It is great to see him now achieving his C10 award. Speaking in public takes on a different turn when completing your C10. It is a different pressure. You feel you have to produce something special each speech. I am sure Lloyd will rise to the challenge. Lloyd went on to win the best speaker prize, but it was a close call.

The evaluators were Daniel, Patrick, Costa and Gillian. All the evaluations were of a great standard. This is at the heart of Toastmasters. Everything is evaluated, and therefore we learn from our recommendations and build on our commendations. I feel the evaluations at Epsom are becoming so much more refined. The recommendations are clear and easy to understand, and everyone in the room learns from them. I did notice there were some people evaluating in the first person, rather than the third person with some evaluations though. This is a little distracting for the whole audience as it starts to feel like a one to one conversation, rather than addressing the whole audience. Patrick also raised a good point during his recommendations of asking a question of the audience. Rather than saying ‘Has anyone…?’, ask ‘Have you….?’. This makes the question open to everyone and more personal. These seem like little points, but they are very important. It is the little things that mean a lot. Daniel went on to win the best evaluator. Daniel also is a relatively new member, and he has improved remarkably also.

After the break we had the Topics Session ran for the first time by Rick. Rick is another new member to the club and is slowly and methodically chipping away at his nervousness at public speaking. This was a great example of how he is achieving this by running a great topics session. The theme of the session was interview questions. I can’t even remember the last time I went to an interview in a formal way, so this was particularly interesting to me. The participants were Dave Goodman, who let loose with a foray of jokes, myself, Doris, Justin, Elizabeth, who managed to speak about Scottish dancing again, Aron and Phoebus. It was an amazing topics session where everybody had something to say, and many laughs were had. Justin went on to win the topics session.

David Lane was Topics evaluator. David gave us good commendations and recommendations for every participant.  David is becoming more confident as a speaker since being at Epsom Speakers. David is good at finding recommendations and is a real asset to all of our learning experiences. And last but not least was our general evaluator Aishi Lim. Aishi gave us a wonderful run down of the evenings proceedings and kept the humour going from the topics session. Aishi has a wonderful presence on stage and showed us this with his observant evaluation of the evening.

I had so much fun last night I was laughing most of the evening. Laughter is so good for you on many different levels, but it also helps to stop you feeling so nervous. I do hope you all learn to love speaking in public. I am very grateful also to be able to preside over such an amazing club. May the learning curve keep growing.

Keep shining.

Kind regards,

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.

The heritage of Epsom Speakers

Epsom Speakers Club meeting Monday 5th February 2018

Firstly, I do want to reiterate what I said last night.  I am truly grateful for Epsom Speakers Club, the heritage that it has passed down to us, and the people who share that history today in the terms of members of our club. Without the members, there would be no club. Without the committee, there would be no organisation of the meetings, and without the heritage, we would be a fledgling club just starting out on the Toastmaster journey. As a member of Epsom Speakers, you know there is a great history behind us, and a bright future ahead of us. All the tools are there for you to look inside yourself and bring the greatness out from within. We are all here to help with that personal journey of public speaking and leadership. Rest assured that you have a diligent committee working hard in the background to keep this all alive. And I will say again, a big thank you to George Hollis for his donation of £1,000 to the club in his will.

We were given a great treat last night with Patrick Ebbs as our Toastmaster. Patrick is a very experienced Toastmaster and has encouraged me greatly as I keep trying to get better at public speaking. Patrick showed us his gravitas last night as he held the stage and ran a very entertaining evening. Patrick’s team was also on good form, from Paul D setting up the room, Rick H, who was first time up as timekeeper, Phoebus as videographer, and of course all the members on the agenda.

Chris Terry opened up the proceedings with his first warm up. Chris was looking for holiday suggestions to take his young family on. It was a great warm up, as everybody spoke well. Many ideas were given to Chris to help him find the perfect destination for his holiday. Then came the speakers.

First up was Justin with his C9 entitled White Dune Kite Camp’. I can’t believe Justin has already reached his C9. The speech was a little bit of a sales pitch, which Amanda quite rightly stated that this is frowned upon. But Justin did get away with it, and it certainly made me think about what his Sister and associates are trying to do. It certainly looks like an interesting holiday idea if you want an action holiday. Wall to wall sunshine all year round sounds great to me also.

Katie performed her C6 entitled ‘The big 5 – 0. ‘ This speech was a list and again Amanda showed here experience by saying lists are usually frowned upon at Toastmasters. Again Katie did make it work in her usually upbeat manner. It was a touching speech. Also what is wonderful to see is two relatively new members proceeding through their manuals and learning the skills necessary to become a great public speaker. So well done to Katie and Justin for providing us with the speeches for the evening. Please, please, please try to keep to time. It is important for many reasons.

Charlie presented an educational about the Youth Leadership Programme that we participated in at Woodcote School. It really was a life changing experience for the young people who took part. The pupils grew in confidence, stature and speaking abilities while we were running the programme. Charlie reiterated that so well during this educational. The Youth Leadership Programme is a great way to help young people empower themselves so they can say what they feel, in a confident articulate way. So thank you Charlie for your educational, and thank you for organising the meetings at Woodcote.

There were no winners of the speech contest as all speakers went overtime.

 Then came the evaluations. David Lane started the evaluations. David was evaluating Justin and gave us a very insightful look at Justin’s speech. He gave Justin some very good commendations, but did say he wanted to feel more of the emotions of a story in the speech to persuade him further that we all should go on a holiday like this. David has grown well with the club and is a very keen Toastmaster. This really showed on Monday, so thank you David for your valuable contribution.

Next up was Doris with her evaluation of Katie. Again Doris is a very experienced Toastmaster and gave Katie many commendations. I also agree with Doris saying Katie could have gone into more details of just a few of the points, than going through all 50. Maybe that would have lost some of the idea of the speech, but it certainly was food for thought. Doris went onto win the evaluation contest. Again Thank you Doris for your great contribution to the evenings agenda.

Last up was David Goodman. David also did a great evaluation of Charlie’s speech. Dave was on the team at Woodcote School. We did have a little more information given about the experience. David found some good recommendations as well as commendations for Charlie. Thank you David for your contribution to the evening.

After the break we had the topics session. Costa ran the session. It was a thoughtful  topics session looking at balance in certain aspects of life. We had many participants, both new and old members alike. We also had guests participating. Costa achieved his objectives as Topics Master as all the speakers managed to speak on their given topics. We done Costa. The winner of the topics was a guest called Chris.

Aishi was the topics evaluator. Aishi is also now one of the more experienced Toastmasters at Epsom, and gave us a very funny and insightful evaluation of the session. Aishi has a lovely way about him that is funny and entertaining, while he manages to get important points across. Thank you Aishi for your contributions to the evening.

And lastly, we had Amanda as General Evaluator. Amanda gave us an insightful evaluation for the evening. Many commendations and recommendations were given. Amanda is another very experienced Toastmaster, and she showed it with her General Evaluation. Thank you Amanda,

Patrick did mention at the end that many people had left during the break. I do not feel that this was not a reflection on the evenings proceedings. I feel that this was due to people having busy lives. So keep moving onwards and upwards and I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting on 18th February, where Penny Williams is going to be our Toastmaster.

Keep on shining.

Kind regards,

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.